As a Raider fan, I have come to accept that Al Davis doesn't care about what fans think. Sometimes I wonder why Mr. Davis went into the business of the NFL, because when it comes to the fans, he seems to turn a deaf ear.
I said "seems" because that has been my perception, but I could be wrong.
Sometimes I wonder if Raider Nation should merely use reverse psychology in order to convince Mr. Davis of needed changes.
Nevertheless, I believe that the sports media have been equally callous towards Raider Nation as just pawns in some behind-the-scenes struggle against Mr. Davis to define the perception of the Raiders franchise.
See, that is what Mr. Davis fears the most: Someone other than him defining the image of the Raiders.
He'd rather fail miserably but know that it was his fault than follow the leader and get defined in the pyramid of someone else's success. Mr. Davis wants to be the trend setter, not the coat-tail rider, even if he has to go out in a blaze of glory.
Terms like "bust central" have been used in reference to the Raiders. In one case, by the failing newspaper the Seattle Post-Intelligencer . Oh, how beautifully ironic that a bankrupt newspaper would have the gall to say that the emperor has no clothes.
The sports media are still iterating through the "Al Davis is crazy" program, because that's all they know.
And that is why the drones have relished this period in which the Raiders have struggled, because the program they operate in continues to be right. I dare to say, though, that the program will soon come to a screeching hault.
With that said, I think certain moves must be made in order to do so. But also, some moves should not be made.
1) Hire recently deposed Scott McCloughan as a top executive in the front office. Ideally, McCloughan would be the GM that the Raiders have lacked, but I would accept it if McCloughan merely had a different title.
McCloughan has faimly ties to the Raiders—his dad is a former Raider—so I would think that McCloughan could serve in a capacity similar to what Brian Cashman has been to the Steinbrenners.
Meaning that, I think McCloughan understands and appreciates the legacy of the Raiders, and more specifically Mr. Davis.
2) It is a good move to keep Tom Cable. The reason why is that Cable has brought some stability to the Raiders. Any new coach deserves at least three seasons to right the ship (with some exceptions).
Despite the gossip from ESPN and the Hanson drama, Cable has not done anything disastrous.
The Raiders need more than just a quarterback change, but Cable had the guts to stand his ground against Mr. Davis and bench JaMarcus Russell for Bruce Gradkowski—a move that suggested that the Raiders can be a respectable team in 2010 with improved play by either quarterback.
3) Design plays for Darren McFadden. McFadden is not a pure north-south runner. He has the speed to go long in space, but lacks the physicality to hit the middle when the defense doesn't need to respect the passing game.
That should be Michael Bush's job.
The reason that McFadden has struggled is that the Raiders have not designed plays that maximize and accentuate his strengths. Even Marshall Faulk in his heyday was not a pure north-south runner, but he would get those yards when the defense was stretched thin by the spread offense in St. Louis.
My point is that few players in NFL history, even great players, can do everything. Even great players have weaknesses. I'm not saying that McFadden is a great player necessarily, I hope he develops into one, though. What I am saying that McFadden needs plays tailored to his strengths.
4) Focus on the lines of scrimmage in the draft.
With few exceptions, such as strong-side linebacker, the biggest areas of weakness for the Raiders are the lines of scrimmage (offense and defense).
The defensive line needs a run-stopping tackle, while the offensive line needs at least two more starters, maybe three. I would hope that the Raiders use the first three rounds to address offensive tackle, nose tackle, and center.
LT Mario Henderson has been better than he gets credit for. The problem has been right tackle, yet many Raider fans think that the Raiders should select a LT and move Henderson to the right side.
It might not be a sexy pick, but the Raiders could take a tackle at eighth overall to play the right side, and maintain some cohesion with Henderson on the left. Don't underestimate the importance of cohesion for the offensive line.
The second round presents a dilemma. Should the Raiders take a nose tackle or a center?
At 39th overall, the Raiders could get NT Cam Thomas of North Carolina or C Matthew Tennant of Boston College. Thomas would be the best NT left, while Tennant is rated as the second-best center. I doubt that either will be around in the third round.
I would pick Thomas and cross my fingers that Tennant is still around in the third, simply because the Raiders have a few more options already at center. Moreover, the Raiders should be able to address the guard position in the fourth or fifth round with someone like Brandon Carter of Texas Tech.
5) Add more picks in the Draft. This is a deep draft. The Raiders should be willing to go "all in" and trade future picks for picks in 2010. Extra picks in the second and third rounds would be ideal.
6) Consider trading Nnamdi Asomugha. As I previously mentioned, 2010 is a deep Draft. If the Raiders can get a boatload of picks for Asomugha or a top-three pick, I would definitely consider trading Asomugha.
7) Don't trade the 39th pick for Donovan McNabb. The Eagles are trying to pull a scam if they expect fair-value for a player they no longer want and need. I'd consider trading a 2011 pick with conditions, but not a 2010 pick.
8) Don't sign Terrell Owens. As good as Owens has been, I'm not sure that his history of drama is worth it. The Raiders need to develop a quarterback, so the last thing the Raiders should want is a receiver with a record of undermining even great quarterbacks. (And yes, McNabb is a great quarterback.)